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Tulsa County Election Board Confident In Local Postal System, Absentee Ballot Security

Chris Polansky

With President Donald Trump openly admitting to an attempt to prevent the U.S. Postal Service from handling the surge in mail-in ballots it expects due to the pandemic, as well as claiming that voting by mail allows for rampant fraud, the secretary of the Tulsa County Election Board said Tuesday that the body is confident in both the security of ballots for next week's mayoral election and the ability of local postal workers to deliver them on time. 

"Our historic relationship with the post office here has been absolutely a wonderful partnership," said Secretary Gwen Freeman in a phone interview. 

"I've been assured by officials at the post office that that will not change. I believe them, and I know that that's one of their primary concerns, is making sure that these absentee ballots not only get through their system as quickly as possible but get to us as quickly as possible," she said.

Jeff Bradley, president of the Tulsa Area American Postal Workers Union Local 1348, said that while postal workers in Tulsa have been seeing significant delays in mail delivery similar to those recently reported across the country under policies being undertaken by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor and appointee, he also has confidence in their being able to effectively handle election materials.

"The clerks that I represent, they see [ballots], they pull them out as quickly as fast as they possibly can see them," Bradley said. "The clerks are still going to do their job no matter what. They're going to make sure that everything gets out that they can possibly get out in a timely manner."

Freeman said that as far as fraud in absentee ballots cast by mail, Oklahoma has a secure system.

"I'm proud to say that Oklahoma has one of the finest election systems, I believe, in the nation," Freeman said.

"Absentee voting has been something we've been doing here at the election board, here in the state of Oklahoma, for many, many, many years," Freeman said. "Our method of absentee voting is very, very good. If you're sending in your ballot, by the time we receive it and we're able to look at your affidavit, we know that you are who you say you are, by means of either a notary or sending in some sort of ID.

"So, with fraud as an overall subject, what I want you to understand is that for Oklahoma, we're doing business the way we've been doing it for a long time, and we're conducting our procedures and everything else, in terms of absentee, the same way we always have, and it's been very, very effective."

Freeman still encouraged voters who have already received an absentee ballot for next Tuesday's election to mail them as soon as possible. (The deadline to request an absentee ballot has passed.) Ballots must be received -- not postmarked -- by 7:00 p.m. on election day, Aug. 25th. They can also be hand delivered to the Tulsa County Election Board until 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 24th.

Early voting is also an option: voters can visit the Election Board office at 555 North Denver Ave. in Tulsa, Thursday and Friday, Aug. 20th and 21st, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, and Saturday, Aug. 22nd, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Capacity will be limited and other measures will be in place in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lastly, traditional election day poll sites will also be operating, though Freeman encouraged voters to check that their precinct location hasn't changed due to the pandemic.

More information is available at the election board's website

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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